2+2 Dialogue: Defence co-op, counter-terrorism, trade on agenda

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New Delhi, Sept 4 :
Counter-terrorism, defence cooperation and trade will be the key highlights of the inaugural India-United States 2+2 Dialogue that would take place in New Delhi on September 6.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James Mattis will arrive in New Delhi on September 5. According to sources, bilateral meetings between Pompeo and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and between Mattis and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be held on September 6 in respective ministries. The bilateral meetings will be followed by the combined 2 +2 Dialogue.
Top sources told ANI that counter-terrorism will be discussed in detail which may include a follow-up discussion on recently held Homeland Security Dialogue and Designation Dialogue. In this regard, the sharing of information, designation of international terrorists and organisations are on the table.
The US has designated Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) as terrorist organisations on the recommendations of India. Similarly, India has also designated Al Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) as terrorist organisations which affect the US, sources said.
Washington and New Delhi will also discuss cooperation with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which has recently blacklisted Pakistan on charges of terror financing. Besides, talks will also cover exchange of intelligence and information.
Pompeo will be travelling from Pakistan to India. Sources said that India is keen to hear US assessment of Pakistan.
On defence cooperation, sources told ANI that the leaders will take a stock of progress made during discussions on defence enabling agreements like COMCASA, military to military cooperation, specific partnership co-development, maritime security and other issues related to national security.
The US has given India the status of major defence partner and has also accorded STA1 status. According to sources, the specific issue of S-400 missile deal with Russia is not on the table as it pertains to a third country. Sources added that CATSA is an internal US law and the country is expected to keep in mind its strategic relations with other countries while taking decisions.
Sources further said that India will also sensitise the US on oil imports and impact of sanctions on the Indian economy. “New Delhi will put it’s case on how heavily dependent India is on Iran oil imports. It’s refineries are used to Iranian crude, and cost of changing to other sources and the alternatives which are available,” sources said.
New Delhi, at the same time, will also use this opportunity to understand from the US about its expectations from India. Other countries like Japan, China and South Korea are also holding discussions with the US on Iran sanctions.
After 2+2 Dialogue is concluded, all the four leaders will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, following which Pompeo will be flying back to Washington. Sitharaman will be hosting a dinner for Mattis.
This will be the first 2+2 Dialogue between the countries as it is replacing the annual Strategic Dialogue between India and US. India regards this as the highest institutional political engagement between the two countries, while terming the 2 +2 Dialogue as a major diplomatic event in the calendar. The US has similar dialogue formats with two other countries — Australia and Japan.

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